News Corp reported a higher quarterly profit on Wednesday, and its chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch said the media company's board wants him to remain CEO after a phone hacking scandal at its UK newspaper unit raised questions about his leadership.
The big question on the minds of many people is whether the 80-year-old Murdoch would continue to supervise News Corp after fresh revelations of the hacking charges, which have resulted in several high-profile departures from the company and the arrests of 12 ex-staffers.
Murdoch told investors on a conference call that the board gave him its backing.
The board and I believe I should continue in my current role as chairman and CEO, but make no mistake, (Chief Operating Officer) Chase Carey and I run this company as a team, and the strength of that partnership is reflected in our improved results, Murdoch said. I'm personally determined to put things right when it comes to the News of the World.
Murdoch also said that he was disappointed that the company had to drop its bid for full control of UK satellite TV company BSkyB after the phone hacking scandal eroded News Corp's chances of getting approval for the deal.
News Corp's profit rose, at least by one measure. The company, which owns broadcaster Fox and newspapers including the Wall Street Journal reported a profit from continuing operations of $982 million, up from $902 million a year ago.
Its net income fell to $683 million, or 26 cents a share, down from $875 million, or 33 cents a share, a year ago.
Revenue rose 11 percent to $8.96 billion, helped by advertising sales and fees at Fox TV and its cable networks.
Operating income at its cable network unit rose 12 percent, helped by a 23 percent rise in advertising revenue at its domestic channels and a 30 percent rise in affiliate fees at its international cable channels. Advertising at its Fox broadcast business also rose by 7 percent.
Movie profits rose 53 percent thanks to animation hit Rio and home entertainment sales of Black Swan and The Chronicles of Narnia.
They were pretty good numbers, said Collins Stewart analyst Thomas Eagan.
Murdoch said the company would consider expanding its share buyback if the stock continues to be undervalued.
(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke. Editing by Robert MacMillan)